Monday, April 26, 2010

The Happiest Doilies

Keeping with the doily theme...

I ran across this blog last night when I should have been working. Even if you're not into doilies, these are pretty impressive, and I love that she uses bright bold colours in them. Not like me in plain old white or ivory. I would love to branch out and get some colorful fine crochet thread for doilies, but finding that kind of thing isn't easy in Korea. Koreans aren't that into decorative crochet. They prefer to make practical things like hats, bags, and other wearables. Very Korean. Also, since I shop at the wholesalers, they rarely sell single balls. So, I'd have to buy multiple bags of thread in order to get a few colours. I don't think Sejin would like that idea.

Interesting day at work today. My bosses are not bad people, but they are typical hakwon owners. They asked that I come in on time: 1:00. I replied that I do come in on time, and usually I'm early. When I started this job three months ago, I was told to arrive by 1:30. They insist they told me 1:00, but that's not the kind of thing I would forget. So I was kind of put on the spot. It was really silly, especially since I go along with their rules about vacuuming and mopping my classroom, tutoring absent students before classes, and sitting through pointless meetings conducted in Korean. It never ends. Oh, yes, and I should come in for their special market/games day, which is not a day that I usually work. I asked, will I be getting paid? The answer was no, although they would want me to come in for a full day. I told them that I would not come in for a full day. I ended up agreeing to come in for a couple of hours.

I think I'll quit this job in the summer. I probably shouldn't, but I have no patience for these kinds of games anymore. Perhaps I'll finally use my tutoring license that I've been meaning to use for so long. There are certainly enough kids in this apartment complex. Then at least I wouldn't have deal with such ridiculousness.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


My head almost exploded when I found these patterns for unique "d'oyleys" in the antique knitting pattern library. I was almost doilied out thanks to crocus doily, but since I found all this neat antique stuff, I definitely have renewed interest. Check this out:

Pattern by Isabella Beeton, published 1877, found here.

It's an asymmetric doily! So cool! It seems no one else is interested in this stuff. One person on ravelry is attempting this now, and I think I might become the second. The reason may be because you have to learn the old terminology, but there's a section at the front of the book with pictures and descriptions. From what I've seen, I think I could figure it out.

Was I born in the wrong era?

Back to work.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Is something wrong with me?

Sometimes I wonder that. Why is it I can sit for hours looking at antique and vintage knitting patterns? This activity would probably be regarded by most as the most boring thing in the world, but I just can't stop. The worst part about it is that I do not have the time to waste. I am barely keeping up with writing, both Grace and I have a cold, the apartment is a mess, and I'm looking at online scans of books from the 19th century.

This is simply amazing: the antique knitting pattern library. I love clicking randomly on a book and seeing the original scans. It's amazing that women used to make so many things. While it's nice that women don't have to do these things anymore, it does kind of make one sad to think that almost everything we use is mass-produced. It seems most people do not appreciate the care that goes into making something anymore.

Some other links of interest:

-1884 knitted lace sample book. An antique book collector found a number of newspaper clippings glued into the back of an old book. They contain patterns for lace edgings and insertions. She is knitting and charting each one.

-Home Work (1891). This is where I found the smyrna edging I knit and is pictured in my previous post. The garment I was making did not work out. I picked up stitches along the edge of the edging and knit a couple inches in stockinette. I could tell two things: A) it wasn't going to be big enough for Grace, and B) I was using a ridiculous technique for such a garment. But I had an epiphany while I was knitting. The only way I could knit off an edging for something like that would be to do a provisional cast on, knit the edging to the desired circumference, graft the two edges together to make a continuous round edging. Then, pick up stitches with a circular needle and knit up in the round. I don't regret the time spent on the garment because if I had not attempted it, I would not have had that epiphany. Now that I know what I have to do, I have to finally order a Denise Interchangeable Set, as I've been talking about for so long.

-Free Vintage Knitting is always fun to browse for the photos, if anything.

-Here are some great old crochet patterns.

Well, work to do now.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stitching away

I am managing to get a fair bit done with my very little free time. If Grace is up and engrossed in her toys or books, I pull out my crocheting. Crocheting is great because if it gets ripped back a bit, it's not big deal. You just stick the hook back in and keep going. If stitches get pulled off your knitting needles, it's a little (often a lot) more frustrating. You can easily drop stitches, which can be difficult to retrieve.

Anyway, I'm on row 21 of 25 on Crocus Doily. At this point, each row takes quite a bit of time to finish. I hope to be done this next week. Won't be doing this one again, though.
The lace edging is also slow going (perhaps life for women was slow going back in 1891?). I thought since it's a narrow edging, it would be faster to knit. That's really not the case. Every row in this pattern is very different, and nearly impossible to memorize. I've never done any knitting like this before. It's pretty unique, I think...I got done a bit of work while Grace was in daycare, but not as much as I wanted to. Isn't that always the case?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

We're doing it!

Both Grace and I, I mean...

As for me, I'm being very disciplined with myself about my crafting. I have decided to finish up those works in progress that have been hibernating. So, I have been working on Crocus Doily here and there when Grace allows. I started it maybe two years ago and I cannot figure out why I decided to buy such thin thread. It must be size 20 or even 30. It's hard to work with. I'm on the home stretch now, and the results are going to be worth the eye strain, I think. It's really pretty.

Last night I was searching Ravelry for a nice summer shirt/dress to make Grace with some bright yellow cotton I bought at Dongdaemun. But then I remembered the blog post I made about knitting creatively and thought, why not? I did some googling and found a list of lace inserts and edgings from a book published in 1891. I'm currently working on a lace edging, which I want to go around the bottom of the tank/dress I'm going to make. Then I will pick up stitches around the edge and see what happens. It's not an easy lace pattern. I can't work on it when Grace is around because it requires a lot of concentration and even tension. I'm enjoying it so far and can't wait to post about the results of my first pattern.

By the way, yes, I'm behind in my writing, again. Mostly my fault. I plan to get some stuff done tonight after Grace goes to sleep.

As for Grace, she has a cold and has been in a bit of a grumpy mood this weekend, but I'm so happy to see her growing and learning every day. She has a growing vocabulary which includes bye-bye, baby, cracker, car, ball, no ... Well, those are the words I know for sure she is using. I suspect there are others, but she's still working on them so they sound more like babbling. It's really cute.

It's hard to believe that I had such a rough time last year because of her sleep patterns. Looking back, I can see clearly that it was partly my fault for not helping her break her habits earlier. Now she sleeps pretty well, unless she's sick. This morning she did something I never thought she would do. I told her to come and eat, but she protested and pointed back at her toys, so I let her go. She walked by her toys and picked up her bear and took him with her to the bedroom and asked to be picked up and put in her crib. She asked for her nap.

Now, if you would have told me last year that this would ever happen, I would have laughed out loud. Everything everyone told me was true -- it does get easier!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A crayon?

I think I am officially all ESLed out. I can't even believe I've lasted as long as I have. Here are some fine examples of crap I've been dealing with.

I work two days a week at a hakwon. In only two and a half months, I have seen a huge improvement in a lot of my student's English, or at least their motivation to learn it. I'm seeing kids use the vocabulary I'm teaching, sometimes even idioms, and saying they like my class. This is a lot, because these students had a terrible teacher before me (she was a Korean English teacher who conducted the entire class in Korean), and they are some of the lowest level students I've ever taught. I'm doing the best I can with what I have (bosses refused to buy me certain materials I have asked for, like CDs and flashcards), and it's paying off. Do you think that's enough for my bosses? Of course not. I should use a crayon to draw a big circle on their pages -- not a pen. I should come in early to teach the students who were absent last class (for free, of course). I should only give high marks on reports, even if the student can't spell his name.

This isn't new to me, but even after so many years here, it's still shocking. And it's wearing me down. My bosses aren't bad people, but their inability to see my students' improvements and the importance of them is really frustrating. Why even bother?

Publishers. I'm currently working with two Korean publishers, E and D. I keep accepting this work because I keep trying to convince myself that it's good work. Yeah, it's flexible. But I end up doing this work late at night because I truly don't have a lot of time to do it, even when Grace is in daycare. When she's in daycare, and I'm at home, there is laundry to be done, the apartment to clean, shopping to do, and food to cook. I really don't have much time to write, like I did before I had a baby.

But that's my problem. The other problem is somem of the people I work with. When they send me revisions, it would help a lot if I could understand them. I just got a bunch of feedback from D publisher and I swear, I do not understand what this person is talking about in many of her comments about my writing. Her English doesn't seem to be good enough to be supervising the writing of ESL coursebooks. And the sample she gave me was a piece of garbage. Oh, so there are two activities per page, rather than one? That's a big freaking difference you're telling me now right after I've signed and sent you the contract. I just sent her an email with a hint of snark...but she probably won't pick up on that, anyway.

Same with E publisher. The sample they went me was "missing" some scripts that need to be written every unit. I love it. Her revision of the first unit was full of "Sorry, my sample wasn't so good. This one needs another dialogue." Cute.

So, I'm in bad mood. My kid got me up at 5:00 a.m. this morning and seems to be getting another cold. I dragged myself into work today with a sandwich and coffee I picked up on the way, and received a call from my boss at 1:25 (which I didn't answer). I'm usually early to work, but I'm always there on time (by 1:30). I arrive to find a bunch of kids from different classes in my classroom and I'm supposed to catch them up because they were absent. I was pissed. They told me to be to work by 1:30 so that I could clean my classroom (yes, I have to vacuum and mop my classroom), sit through a pointless meeting, and start teaching at 2:20. No problem, but that's supposed to be prep time (and also eat my lunch time).

I think I've reached the point of "no more." I'm not going to quit my jobs now, but after these current books are done, I'm going to need a bit of a break, as stress levels are rising a little too high. Ah, I should have been writing some listening dialogues instead of writing this post, but screw it. I'm going to lay in bed with The Toddler Whisperer and rest up, for I fear I will be keeping Grace home from daycare tomorrow due to her cold. And then I'll be even more behind.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Helena sweater and Mary Jane booties

Finally finished this sweater and booties to match. The sweater took me longer than I thought it would take. I knit the 12 month size, but since I was using smaller yarn and needles, it came out about 3 month size, which is what I was going for. The only thing I am not happy about is that the hem rolls a bit. If I had had more time, I would have fixed it, but I was in a hurry. It's a relief to have it done. The booties were a pleasant surprise. Only took me about one hour of knitting each, if that.
I'm wondering what I should start next, but I have two WIPs (work in progress) that are nagging at me. They're both doilies, and I'm not in a very doily mood. I may put them off 'til the 2010 WIP Cup (finish your WIPs during the 2010 World Cup). I also have a number of WIPs that are called BOOKS I've signed contracts to WRITE. All work and no play......
I'm tired and hungry.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Truckers knit and quilt, too.

My friend A shared this article with me today through facebook and it gave me a laugh. I especially love the second photo of the guy in tattoos knitting in his truck. This type of crafting is really addictive. I'm looking forward to a time when I have more time to craft.

I was out and about in Seoul today. Fridays have become "me" days. I had a doctor's appointment in Hannam-dong, so I went into the city early to do some looking around Myeong-dong. My, things change so fast. I haven't browsed around Myeong-dong in around a year, and I can't believe all the stores that are gone, and the new ones that have popped up. There are so many new "road shops"...those beauty shops like Face Shop, Etude House, Missha, Tony Moly, Innisfree, etc. I had to chuckle at the name of a new one called "Bavi Phat." I did venture into a Tony Moly and the saleswoman was kind enough to point out my dark circles and recommend a product.

If anything, the shopping trip did confirm my need for a sewing machine. I was excited to look around a store called "Forever 21" after hearing so much about it. Well, they wanted about $50 for a simple skirt (like two pieces of fabric with an elastic at the top). They had cute things for babies...especially if you like paying $60 for a baby dress. I kept thinking about how easy it would be to make this and that if I had a sewing machine.

Also on my list was to check out a store called H&M that I had heard rave reviews of. This store was more my speed, but still nothing to write home about. I was excited to see some nice jeans, and then after seeing that they were $79, I quickly went to check out the kids' section. To be honest, the kids section is worth checking out. The prices were reasonable, and they had a big Hello Kitty selection. I ended up buying Grace a HK T-shirt, some basic white leggings I had been looking for on gmarket but failed to find, and a summer hat. I was proud of myself for not going overboard, as a lot of the stuff was really cute. I received a lot of hand-me-downs from friends a while back, so I kept reminding myself of that.

Finally I hit Uniqlo, which is my favourite store for basics, met my friend A for lunch, and finally had my dr's appmt. It was a good day. Nice to be out shopping on my own, and the weather was great. After having a good day like that, it's so nice to go and pick up little Grace at daycare and have a relaxing evening together. The down side is, I have lots of work to catch up on this weekend.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Not much creative knitting getting done these days with so much work on the go. I think I need a vacation...or a move across the globe.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Knitting creatively

I went to the mommy knitting meet-up in Itaewon today. It was so nice to get out on my own and do something totally for me. I saw some friends and met some new ones. I even showed a friend how to do the knit stitch and she seems to be well on her way to becoming a knitter.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my own talents and abilities and how I can work them into my future. I really want to incorporate them, but this would require a lot of work and creativity in itself. You see, I don't think I am a very creative person. People say to me all the time, "You're so creative. You make all these things..." Yes, I make them, but I follow pre-written, pre-tested patterns, often to the very last stitch, which is actually a very logical, left-brain exercise. Knitting does not necessarily require creativity. It requires patience and the ability to follow detailed instructions. I think perfectionists make good knitters.

There's nothing wrong with how I approach knitting, but I've been feeling lately that I'm a bit like a robot knitter, often adding nothing personal to my work, fearing to venture outside the pattern. I'd really like the change that. I'm not saying I'd necessarily like to become a pattern designer, because I don't know if that is attainable, but I'd like to branch out a bit and be a little more creative.

I don't know everything about knitting yet, so in the future, I'm going to try to choose patterns that either challenge me to learn a completely new skill and grow as a knitter (like fair isle, something I've been afraid to try), or abandon patterns altogether and see what I come up with. I have been thinking lately that combining knitting and sewing, or knitting and crochet might be a good place to start. Let's see if I can do this. I'll set a realistic goal and say that sometime in 2010, I should knit at least one thing that is purely a product of my own creativity.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Angellyn hair accessories

I just wanted to post this link. I think anyone who has a little girl in Korea should know about this woman who makes handmade hair accessories for babies and girls. I've ordered her stuff twice and it's fantastic. Well-made and cute. You choose the ribbon design, and then you choose what you want it on, like elastics, small clip, large clip, etc. She also has baby headbands. Her prices are extremely affordable. We're talking 1000 won for a pair of clips...same ones will run you about 3000 won at Migliore or Doota.

Working from home

isn't as great as it sounds. As time goes on, I find I am less and less self-disciplined. I sometimes have to bribe or threaten myself so that I get down to work. Right now, I'm going to try, "unless I write for the next 3 hours, I am not allowed to attend the knitting get-together in Itaewon tomorrow." Let's see how this goes.